Adaptive social structures are known to promote the evolution of cooperation. However, up to now the characterization of the collective, population-wide dynamics resulting from the self-organization of individual strategies on a coevolving, adaptive network has remained unfeasible. Here we establish a (reversible) link between individual (micro)behavior and collective (macro)behavior for coevolutionary processes. We demonstrate that an adaptive network transforms a two-person social dilemma locally faced by individuals into a collective dynamics that resembles that associated with an N-person coordination game, whose characterization depends sensitively on the relative time scales between the entangled behavioral and network evolutions. In particular, we show that the faster the relative rate of adaptation of the network, the smaller the critical fraction of cooperators required for cooperation to prevail, thus establishing a direct link between network adaptation and the evolution of cooperation. The framework developed here is general and may be readily applied to other dynamical processes occurring on adaptive networks, notably, the spreading of contagious diseases or the diffusion of innovations.
Recommended citation: Pinheiro, Flávio L., Francisco C. Santos, and Jorge M. Pacheco. "Linking individual and collective behavior in adaptive social networks." Physical review letters 116, no. 12 (2016): 128702.